Catholic Relief Services responds to drought in Madagascar

March 12, 2003, Baltimore, MD - Severe drought in southern Madagascar has placed hundreds of thousands at risk of starvation, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) reported today.
"This situation is critical," said Jennifer Overton, CRS' Country Representative for Madagascar. "Families have exhausted their food supplies and are resorting to eating roots and cactus fruit. We are working with partners to distribute food and medicines, but the needs are increasing as the area has not received consistent rain in over a year."

CRS has been working with local Caritas partners in the Diocese of Tolagnaro since last December to provide emergency daily food assistance to more than 30,000 people, including children and lactating and pregnant women. The most at-risk were 11,000 malnourished children aged 6months to 5 years, who were fed during a three-month period.

With the food crisis worsening, CRS will implement an additional food-for-work program to be carried out in partnership with the World Food Programme. The food-for-work component will offer family food rations and reach more than 35,000 adults - serving the dual purpose of feeding whole families while helping to ensure that malnourished children receive the needed amount of daily calories. A total of 470 tons of enriched flour and 76 tons of oil will be distributed during a three-month period.

Madagascar, located off the southeast coast of Africa, is the fourth largest island in the world and home to nearly 16 million people. CRS has operated in Madagascar since 1962, with programs across the island focusing on maternal health and child survival, agricultural, safety net programs and emergency response.

Catholic Relief Services is marking its 60th year as the official international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community. The agency provides assistance to people in 90 countries and territories on the basis of need, not race, creed or nationality.

For more information about Catholic Relief Services, visit our website at


Brian Shields
Jennifer Overton (Madagascar)